Last week I received the sweetest email from a former student and friend, Rachel Varley, wishing my children a Happy Military Child Appreciation Day. I didn't even know that day existed! Now that I do, I think it's a beautiful way to pay tribute to the sacrifices of our military children and honor their role in serving our country.
Lately, military children have been a recurring thought as my husband's former unit prepares to deploy yet again. Last time Tim went to war Addie didn't know her daddy was gone, but this time around it would tear her apart. And all those kiddos have to endure another year without their fathers--breaks my heart! Trust me, I know how blessed we are to not have to face that separation again at this point in our lives, while Tim attends graduate school. Granted, this step in his career means we owe the military our lives, so chances of another deployment in the future are a likely possibility.
Before Tim and I made the decision to accept the West Point instructor position, and thus commit to a career in the military, I asked Rachel her thoughts on growing up as an "Army brat." Rachel was one of my Advanced Placement Language and Composition students while we were stationed at Fort Hood and I deeply valued her thoughts on the subject. When I think about who I want Adeline to be when she grows up, I pray she embodies some of the same qualities that Rachel does (kindness, flexibility, compassion, perseverance, determination, and leadership--to name a few), which I have come to learn is in part due to her childhood in the military. As a mama, I worried about our children having to grow up in the Army: separated from family, switching schools constantly, leaving behind friends, and enduring deployments. In short, Rachel assured me that although there are obvious challenges associated with growing up as an Army brat, she wouldn't have changed that aspect of her childhood if she had the chance. With her opinion considered, we chose to stay in the Army.
Tim's second deployment departure
I asked Rachel if I could post her email about Military Child Appreciation Day because I believe military parents can gain much needed perspective, assurance and peace by reading her thoughts. Thankfully, she said yes. Below is part of her email.
I am currently interviewing for internships, and figuring out just how blessed I am to have had the childhood I did. For one I have no trouble interacting with professionals or older people whom some may be intimidated by. I think this is because from a young age I was put in situations where I had to be in a receiving line shaking hands and smiling or I knew my actions had an impact on my Fathers career and wanted to make him proud. I have a diverse background and activities that I can share with them because of the different areas I lived; one place soccer was big another volleyball was. I grew up in different environments allowing to me learn how to interact with people who had different. Finally and most importantly I am not afraid or intimidated by the unknown or change, because that has been my life. When I tell employers that, and back it up with examples from my childhood it opens doors.
Attached is a poem you may have seen before, but it is one of my favorites. So while we Army families live a crazy life, I want you to know from someone who lived what your children will live - that I look back and don't resent my parents for it, or wish I could have grown up differently. I feel lucky to have grown up around and with the Army and the Army family it has created. My family are my closest friends, we have family friends that were neighbors who have stepped in and become like our extended family when we live so far from the real ones, my relationship with God is very strong because I realized early on he is my only constant and when I feel sad alone or scared I can lean on him, and I have experiences and have learned things that have better prepared me for my own adult life.
Thank you, Rachel, for your cherished presence in my life and for showing me, and many other military mamas, the benefits of raising our children in this chaotic (and blessed) life we call the Army.